Charity warns of exam stress epidemic

Around 34,500 young people received counselling for exam stress in one year.

ChildLine is a helpline children and young people can contact - and it is increasingly being used by students who are worried about passing their exams. How much do tests really matter?

What’s happening

Butterflies in the stomach, the fear of failure, worry about the future — these are all normal feelings before an exam. But for some, the stress can become overwhelming. And it is getting worse: the number of students who received counselling for exam stress tripled in the 2013–2014 school year.

Find out more

‘I am going to revision classes and trying really hard but I feel like it is not good enough,’ one teenager told ChildLine. He was not alone: thousands of other students called the help service with worries about school, and over half spoke about exams.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, says that exams can be ‘a very stressful and anxious time for young people’. But there are fears over the high numbers of students who feel like they cannot cope. After all, stress can contribute to other health troubles, such as sleeping problems, panic attacks or depression.

ChildLine has lots of helpful advice for young people. It emphasises the importance of looking after your body, taking regular breaks in your studies, and exercising.

Some say…

Life is full of tests, so doing them at school is an important part of education. They help to make us more resilient, and readier to face the challenges we face when we become adults. If you get good results, the feeling of being rewarded for your efforts is great. And we have to find out what we are good at somehow.

Others think…

Exams are not everything. Being well-educated means more than being able to do tests at school; it encourages you to be curious about the world; it helps you to be good at interacting with people, and to find out what you need to know for work. These skills are vital for your future life. And a love of learning is more valuable than any exam grades.

You Decide

  1. Should schools ban tests?


  1. Write down three pieces of advice for someone who is worried about exams.

Some People Say...

“Exams are not there to trip you up, but to let you show off.”

What do you think?

Word Watch

A large amount which is hard to cope with.
Talking about your problems with someone who is trained to help you deal with them.
A helpline for anyone up to the age of 19. The phone number is 0800 1111.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
Panic attacks
Sudden feelings of out-of-control anxiety.
Feeling sad and fed up for a long time.
Gives special importance.


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